寵辱若驚;貴大患若身。

1. Favour and disgrace would seem equally to be feared; honour and great calamity, to be regarded as personal conditions (of the same kind).

何謂寵辱若驚?寵為下。得之若驚,失之若驚:是謂寵辱若驚。
何謂貴大患若身?吾所以有大患者,為吾有身;及吾無身,吾有何患?

2. What is meant by speaking thus of favour and disgrace? Disgrace is being in a low position (after the enjoyment of favour). The getting that (favour) leads to the apprehension (of losing it), and the losing it leads to the fear of (still greater calamity):—this is what is meant by saying that favour and disgrace would seem equally to be feared.

And what is meant by saying that honour and great calamity are to be (similarly) regarded as personal conditions? What makes me liable to great calamity is my having the body (which I call myself); if I had not the body, what great calamity could come to me?

故貴以身為天下,若可寄天下,愛以身為天下若可託天下。

3. Therefore he who would administer the kingdom, honouring it as he honours his own person, may be employed to govern it, and he who would administer it with the love which he bears to his own person may be entrusted with it.

Legge's Comments

厭恥, 'Loathing Shame.' The chapter is difficult to construe, and some disciples of Zhu Xi had to ask him to explain is as in the case of ch. 10. His remarks on it are not to my mind satisfactory. Its object seems to be to show that the cultivation of the person according to the Dao, is the best qualification for the highest offices, even for the government of the world. Par. 3 is found in Zhuangzi (XI, 18 b) in a connexion which suggests this view of the chapter. It may be observed, however, that in him the position of the verbal characters in the two clauses of the paragraph is the reverse of that in the text of Heshang Gong, so that we can hardly accept the distinction of meaning of the characters given in his commentary, but must take them as synonyms. Professor Gabelentz gives the following version of Zhuangzi: 'Darum, gebraucht er seine Person achtsam in der Verwaltung des Reiches, so mag man ihm die Reichsgewalt anvertrauen; . . . liebend (schonend) . . . übertragen.'1


  1. "Therefore, if he uses his person mindfully in the administration of the realm, one may entrust him with imperial authority; ... lovingly (gently) ... handed over." [transcriber translation]